Breastfeeding & Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance
Usually, if a CMPi is suspected, there is more than one symptom at play. Food Intolerances can cause some of the same signs and symptoms as reflux, so people often confuse the two. The most common food Intolerance linked with reflux is Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance.
CMPI intolerance symptoms generally come on gradually and don’t involve an immune system reaction like a rash or inflammation. CMPI is actually defined as an ‘abnormal reaction by the body’s immune system to protein found in cow’s milk’. The immune system normally protects our bodies from harm caused by bacteria or viruses but in CMPI the immune system reacts unusually to the protein found in cow’s milk. This reaction can cause problems in the stomach and intestines, often causing disturbances in digestion.
Symptoms are not necessarily clearly defined and diagnosis may be confirmed from a cluster of symptoms, including; general unhappiness, unsettled behaviour, poor feeds and poor sleeps (though I’m sure many ‘normal’ babies go through stages of exhibiting all these symptoms too).
Vomiting and reflux are also symptoms that all may not be well, especially if the baby shows signs of painful acid reflux that isn’t completely resolved with medication. Consistency and frequency of bowel motions can also reveal signs of the CMPI, diarrhea may occur, stools may be mucousy and blood stained.
Breastfeeding mothers undergo an elimination diet and should see an improvement in the potential symptoms. Diet changes not only include the elimination of obvious dairy products like milk and cheese, but also of egg and all products containing dairy derivatives. In addition soy is usually avoided because the soybean protein is also a common allergen.
The mother will generally find that she may be unable to consume a number of processed foods too (hidden dairy and soy).
It may take up to two weeks for the proteins to exit the mother’s system and another further two weeks to exit the baby’s, although there may be improvement within a week. Many babies will grow out of the intolerance by 4 years old.